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June 12th: Let The River Run

 
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Jackie Sullivan
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:49 am    Post subject: June 12th: Let The River Run Reply with quote

House arrest. It was what Ben called it, and he treated it with about as much enthusiasm. He'd spent the previous day moping, watching TV or spending quiet time with Jackie outside while she gardened, but he'd kept his distance from her. He still wasn't sure where they stood after Monday night's escape-and-discovery (and Sam's showing up and breaking his wrist), and his natural way of dealing with personal issues was to avoid -- so avoid he did.

It's hard to go on avoiding when you're in the same small house with that person twenty-four hours a day, however -- and besides, they'd promised honesty, promised openness. It couldn't continue like this, as much as Ben wouldn't have minded just trying to stick out the avoidance for longer, see if things would eventually go back to normal. Maybe they wouldn't -- and even if they did, leaving an issue like this unresolved wasn't the way they'd promised.

Still, he still mopes the morning away, naps some. Quiet in the house during the day, since Adam is out with his friends from after breakfast until the streetlights come on. It's early afternoon by the time Ben's seeking Jackie out, limping his way down the stairs, hobbling into the living room where she's curled up on the couch with one of her baby books. "Hey." A press of his tongue to the split in his lip, but it only lasts a second. Trying to get better about that. After that little hesitation, he tilts his head toward the front door. "Come sit outside with me?"

Jackie was well aware of the term of endearment that Ben used for time which was supposed to be spent around the house recuperating. She was sure after the incident on Monday and his sentence being prolonged that it only made him cling to the idea that much tighter, that he was somehow being tortured by being in his own home with his wife. To say that Jackie wasn't pleased with his theatrics was an understatement.

Ben was a master of avoidance and over time Jackie was learning his bad habits. To a point she had to, or so she told herself to steer clear of conflict, because too much conflict would result in a face to face with one of his boys and she wasn't in the mood for any of them either. Harry sank her truck and they had yet to have a face to face about it, Sam broke her husband even more than he already was, she even found herself annoyed with Ted after he caused that bit of curiosity in Thomas. That only left Ivan, someone she had never spoken to and never wanted to considering he usually kept company with lying women. What would Jackie be lying about? That everything is fine. That's what she kept saying, everything is fine.

Her saving grace had been her baby books. It was nice to focus on something so pleasant, even if she still felt like a pile of sleepy, bloated nausea. The discomfort would be worth it in the end. Although she was wrapped up in her book, on some level she was aware of Ben's location in the house. She had heard him slowly making his way down the stairs, but by the surprised expression she lifted his way she obviously wasn't expecting him to actually address her. Somehow even such a simple request, come sit outside, made her feel like she was in trouble and she didn't do well hiding it from her features.

After silently staring at him for a short while she tucked her marker between the pages of her book and set it aside so she could rise to her feet. "Sure." That disconcert in her tone was impossible to hide as well. All the same she ventured over to the door and even though she was faster than him because she was uninjured, she waited for him to catch up and open the door for her. Because he was Ben and no matter what it was something he did.
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Jackie Sullivan
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He's actually concerned that she might turn him down during that pause before she answers, and he feels some measure of relief when she agrees, gets up to head to the door. None of it shows on his face, though, practiced at hiding emotion.

Sometimes Jackie had to get the door for him out of necessity, and it always bothered him when she did, so he was glad she waited for him to get it this time around. He lets her go out onto the porch first, follows her out, hobbles right over to the porch swing and drops down onto it, to one side, leaving plenty of room for her next to him. "Nice out today, yeah?" It wasn't really -- it was sort of humid, and there was a threat of a storm out in the distance, but at least it finally felt like summer. The attempt at conversation feels unnatural, the way he tried small talk, so he just gets right to it. "So what's, uh... What's the problem? It's been a weird couple of days--" Since Jackie found him at the bar two nights ago -- well, found Sam first, and then Ben. A hospital trip and an entire day of near silent treatment that continued on into today qualified as 'weird' to Ben. "--and I don't even know what we're fighting about." Sort of bemused; he fidgets with the left sleeve of his hoodie, pulls it down a little further over his hand to cover up the cast completely.

Jackie might be out the door first, but she's a lot slower to move across the porch than Ben is. She gets there eventually, takes a seat on the other side of the swing just in time to flash him a sidelong look. Something that said the weather, really? It wasn't even close to being genuine conversation since it felt so uncomfortable to Jackie. Finally, he got down to it but this didn't feel much better either. "I don't have a problem. I been just fine with my downtime and keepin' myself busy enough. I'm sorry you haven't been enjoyin' it the same way. Y'know, bein' at home with me. Horrible." Arms folded lightly across her abdomen and one leg crossed over the other at the ankle. Her posture just as much as her tone was a giveaway she had a huge problem she wasn't airing. "If y'hate bein' here so much I'll give you your planner. Go work. You don't need your arm to work a case." That's what he wanted, wasn't it?

His brow furrows; clearly he doesn't believe her when she says she doesn't have a problem, and he's sort of confused by the issue he's pretty sure she's saying she has. "What are you talking about? I don't hate being here." It might be unwise, but he reaches over to touch her on the back of the arm anyway. "I hate that I'm f*cking crippled and like... might puncture a lung if I bend the wrong way, and I hate that I can't go anywhere... but that's not the same thing as hating being here." He makes a face, folds his hands between the spread of his knees, forearms on his thighs. "It's hard to enjoy a vacation when it's forced and when I'm on it because I got the sh*t kicked out of me and almost died. Sorry." He laughs a little on the last word, unamused, disbelief. "Next time it happens I'll try to be more cheery about it."

When his touch lands on her arm she does nothing to brush it off, but she's not really acknowledging it either considering she's far too focused on what he's saying despite staring down at her feet. "Right, you got banged up to hell and almost died and you decide the brilliant thing to do is to split at night without tellin' me, because we know those nights always end so well. Then it's a game to you when I try to find you, to make sure Sam didn't go out like an a*s lookin' for revenge and that you weren't dyin' in an alley again." She was looking at him now, but her hard gaze wasn't very enjoyable to be under. "Then when I do find you, Sam is on top of another guy beatin' the sh*t out of him and you broke your goddamn wrist. That was so much better than bein' here with me. The sheer frickin' torture of it all." The longer she went on, the louder her volume was getting. Hopefully she would be done soon before the neighbors thought the Sullivans had lost it. "But I'm the inconsiderate one because my husband has gotten broken twice in the span of weeks and he doesn't understand why the idea of him leavin' the house puts in a panic or why I'm bein' so emotional, it was just a lil' blood loss, right?" Her teeth unintentionally snapped with the final word.

"Without telling you-- what, like you're my goddamn babysitter?" Obvious incredulity in his tone and in his expression, the way he's squinting at her a little. "If I want to go out, I'm gonna go out-- or that's how I used to think about it. Because, you know, I'm an adult." He can hardly believe they're having this argument, and he's not really trying to hide that. "But I get it. You don't want me out of your sight. It makes you emotional, makes you panic. Fine -- I won't leave. But do you really expect me to like that, Jackie? Do you think I'm gonna enjoy feeling like I can't leave because you're going to freak out if I do? --and don't even bring Sam into it, because that is not fair." He sighs, shaking his head, rubbing his right hand over one side of his face. "Okay. Look. I think we're both not communicating really well right now. Let's just... I don't want you to worry about me or be upset. I'm sure you don't want me feeling bad either. What's the real problem? That I went out without telling you? Or that you think I don't want to be here, or what?" Sounds kind of tired, and maybe there's an undertone of frustration, but he's trying.

"Not like I'm your goddamn babysitter. Maybe like I'm your wife and deserve just a lil' bit of courtesy when you decide you're going to go runnin' off. I don't know if you're aware, Ben. But sometimes you got this habit of vanishin' without meanin' to and the last time it happened my truck ended up in the goddamn bay. I give you a heads up when I go to the store, out with the girls, whatever is goin' on. Because you would be just as worried if I ran off without a word."

Her face screwed up tightly when he asked if she really thought he would enjoy that. "Fine, leave, I don't care. You don't care so why should I care? I don't care. You don't care if I get upset, even if you usually do, but not anymore? Okay, be the big man. Go run free." She gets it all out before he tries to shift the conversation to something much more sane and she's still too worked up to be as calm as he's attempting to be. Her foot bounces with irritation. "I'm not trying to make you feel bad. All I'm doing is trying to help you like you helped me, except I don't know how. After... after everything with Lonnie you took such good care of me and even though I was a mess, still a mess, you made it seem like it was goin' to be alright and I believed you." A gesture aside to him. "Now I'm trying to do the same thing and all I'm doin' is screwin' it up. Somehow, I am completely unable to do the simple task of takin' care of my husband after he gets beaten within an inch of his life. I'm so horrible at it you... ran away like a kid with a blanket tied on a goddamn stick. So, whatever. I'm done tryin'. I'm just goin' to spend the next nine months prayin' I don't make my baby hate me an' want to run away, too."
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Oh, Jesus, Jackie--" He sighs, and it's a little sharp. "Stop. Just... stop. Look, I'm sorry I left without telling you. I get what you're saying, and I should've let you know I was leaving so you didn't worry. Okay? I'm sorry." He's pretty sure that's not at all what the issue is, though -- an apology isn't really what this needs. He touches her arm again, brow furrowed while he looks at her, but then he sighs again, looks away, out over the yard. "I think... I think what you needed and what I need are two different things. I appreciate that you're trying to help me. Really, I do. But I just... I don't know. You already know that it can be... sort of difficult for me to get used to the idea of somebody looking out for me. You know?" They'd skirted that issue, that maybe Ben needed someone to keep on eye on him -- or the boys, mostly -- but neither of them has really just come out and said it. It would be hard to blame him for still not being direct about it, though. "And that's when I'm not beat to sh*t. So I just... I wanted to get back to being independent. --not because you're screwing it up. You usually do a really good job of taking care of me," it's a little quieter then, and he's pulling at the sleeve of his hoodie, still not looking at her. "I guess I just don't want you to have to take care of me." Finally, he turns to look at her again; he can't stop the tug of a frown at his mouth. "And don't even say stuff like that, Jackie. Our baby isn't going to hate you."

"Fine." The one word comes out just as sharp as his sigh, obviously not entirely pleased with the apology since he seemed to think she was being too worrisome about it all. His hand rests along her arm and once again she's not really acknowledging it, but she's also not pulling away from him. "But what am I supposed to do? You were a mess, Ben. So I'm supposed to shrug, let you keep workin' yourself to the bone until you can't anymore when you should be layin' low at least for a little? I understand if you don't like havin' someone tendin' to you, but I can't always trust you're going to tend t'yourself like you should." She shook her head and looked down at her feet again, more out of defeat than anger this time around. "So I can take care of you just fine when you're okay and healthy, but when the chips were on the table and you really needed somethin' from me I blew it. When I have to is when it matters." She only gives him a sidelong look when he mentions the baby, but she has nothing to add one way or another. She can't tell him she knows he's right and he told her to not say anything otherwise, so she was silent.

He actually bites his lip when she asks him what she's supposed to do. It's not like there's an easy answer. He traces his fingertips lightly up and down the back of her arm -- it's an idle movement, one meant to just occupy the time he takes to think, but maybe, subconsciously, it's meant to try to soothe her, too. "You're right, you know. Not to trust me to take care of myself like I need to. You know how I can get." Tonguing that split in his lip, he thinks back on all those times she's taken care of him. Making sure he ate -- giving him a place to stay. From the very beginning. "But you're wrong when you say you blew it. Maybe you didn't do it the best this time around, but sweetheart -- I have needed so much from you in the past ten months or so. And you always come through. Remember how it was when we first met?" He shakes his head a little; he almost seems annoyed or disappointed, but it's so mild, and it's directed at himself, besides. "You've been looking out for me since day one. And I don't know where I'd be if you hadn't been. --but maybe that's part of why I resist it, right? I don't want to lean so hard on you." He notices that sidelong look, and her silence doesn't feel right -- she doesn't say she knows he's right -- so he leans in a little closer; his fingers sneak to the inside of her wrist, the delicate skin there, pulse-seeking. There's some measure of closeness in that touch, of intimacy, and it's one he seeks out often with her. "Is that what this is about, sweets? Not just me, but the baby, too?"

The silence might drag on between them, but eventually during that time her arms loosened to instead rest lightly across her stomach. Even though Jackie was only eight weeks along and barely showing she still had a constant urge to hold onto her abdomen or run fingertips across her stomach. Somewhere in there was a little peanut that was already extremely loved and it was a pleasant distraction. "I know how you can get." Said in a flat tone, she didn't need reminding. "I like bein' able to help you, Ben. You act like you don't constantly take care of me in return. I know I'm difficult and I know I have my moments of... I don't know." Being unable to stop acting like the baby of the family even if she was the matriarch of the Sullivans. "I did good for you for ten months. It doesn't mean it's ever going to stop. It doesn't mean I get my fill or you get your fill and I jus' stop takin' care of you. You're my husband and I love you. I'm always going to be there for you." Her gaze sank down to his wandering fingers, her own touch twitching lightly across the expanse of her stomach. "It wasn't. I don't think. I don't know, honestly." Finally she lifted her gaze to look at him. "I feel lost right now, worried, upset for a long time, and I'm tryin' to handle it on my own and I can't and what am I supposed to do? Bother you with it while you're handlin' your own stuff? I'm so incapable of takin' care of my own feelin's yet here I am, going to be taking care of another little human being. What if I can't?"

Ben can think of a few ways to fill in her uncertainty -- 'growing up' is the best way he can think to put it -- but he leaves it alone. He knows what she's getting at. "I love you too," in a murmur -- mostly because he doesn't want to interrupt her train of thought, but he needs to say it anyway -- needs to make sure she knows. They fight so rarely like this, prolonged, over a period of days, and it's unsettling. Really, the only thing it references for him is the way they were around each other after they'd broken up -- that uncertainty, the way he had to push back the draw he felt toward her, and just play unaffected. It wasn't something he enjoyed in the least, so it's a relief to voice that affection for her now, even though it's only been a couple of days that he's been unable to.

He listens while she explains how she feels, tries to figure it out for herself. His fingers don't stop the idle trace along the inside of her wrist until she voices that last question; he takes one of her hands then, laces his fingers between hers, but he leaves the back of his hand pressed to her stomach. "It's not that I want you to stop taking care of me, sweetheart. I know you're not going to stop. And usually you do a really good job for me, sweets. You watch out for me, but you don't smother me, or baby me too much, or... you know. You make me feel like I'm still capable." He's frowning again, and his brow furrows along with it this time; it's a little sudden, like he's just realizing something. "This time is harder for both of us, you know? It was traumatic. We've both got sh*t to work through. And I think it made me want to get out more, be alone more--" Prove to himself that he wasn't worthless, a failure, a f*ckup -- prove that he didn't need to be taken care of, that he was still capable, still alpha. "--but maybe it made you worry more?" His expression falls a little; he's just worked out something else in his head. "Yeah, Jackie, you can bother me with it while I'm handling my own stuff. It's not bothering me. It's what I'm here for. I don't want you to be going through this stuff alone. I want to be there for you, too."

He leans in a little more, ghosts a kiss to her cheek -- the first one he's chanced in a couple of days. "You can, pretty bird. I promise you can. But it's got to be so hard to do it alone. No matter what I'm going through, you can lean on me, Jackie. I want to help you, like you want to help me."

The murmur might have been quick and quiet, she might have continued on after that, but it was as good to hear as it was for him to say. The same way that they needed to touch one another to realign themselves and bring balance to one another when it was thrown out of whack, hearing him say that was needed just as much.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whatever stopped her previously from acknowledging his touches seemed to be long gone because when he laced his fingers through hers she squeezed his hand gently in return. "Maybe I went overboard this time." Jackie sounded like she was well aware there was no maybe about it, but she couldn't give in more than that. Often times she was just as proud as he was. "It was hard." Admitting with a slight nod. "I got worried, I got sick to my stomach thinkin' the worst when I shouldn't have, but then I didn't want to burden you with all that when you already had so much goin' on. So, I think I tried to overcompensate, be strong like you do, and it went wrong." It was easier to pick it out now that she was looking back on it, but at the time it seemed like the thing to do.

He tells her she doesn't have to go it alone, kisses her cheek, and she leans aside to rest her head on his shoulder. If he was giving out comfort she would gladly take it considering it's what she's been craving for weeks and couldn't bring herself to ask of him. "I'm sorry. There's too much to list, too many things that have been messed up in the last few weeks and especially the last few days. I'm sorry. You know you never have to handle anything alone and I won't forget it either. I won't try, especially when I already know it's somethin' more than I can handle." She knew she was in over her head for a while now, but she hoped if she only kept trying that something would give. And it did, but in the worst possible way. At least they were masters of mending pieces.

At first, he thinks about telling her not to be sorry, but after a moment, "It's okay." He keeps ahold of her hand, but his other arm slips around her shoulders when she tips her head against his shoulder. The little bit of plaster between his thumb and the rest of his hand catches in her hair a little, but that doesn't stop him from weaving his fingers into the blonde waves, combing through it gently, idly. "I'm sorry that I couldn't be more there for you. Sorry I got hurt and that I pulled you away from what you needed to do for yourself and then didn't even think about what you're still going through." He feels awful about it now, that he hasn't really thought about what she still must be going through after being attacked, even if her injuries were mental ones, emotional ones.

"You don't need to worry so much about me now, alright? I'm almost back to normal-- except for the wrist, but it's in a cast. Nothing's gonna mess it up worse." It's still escaping him that she might not just be worried about the injuries he has -- but about what could have happened to him that was even worse. What could always happen to him, if she lets her mind go that way. "So you can just focus more on you now, okay? You can talk to me if you want, about anything." His fingers leave her hair, but it's just so he can lightly trail his fingertips along the softness of her cheek. "You know I'm a good listener." It wasn't close to the same level of trauma, and it seems so long ago now, but crisis has a way of finding them, and that wasn't different way back then, either -- and crisis had pushed them together, in a way. She'd bared herself to him early on, and he'd done the best he could to support her then. His commitment to helping her recover, helping her cope, was only stronger now.

"You believe me when I tell you not to worry like that about the baby, don't you?" The trace of his fingers slips down along the side of her neck, seeks out her collarbone; his eyes stay there when he goes on. "You try so hard and you care so much already, sweetheart. There's no way our baby could do anything but love you." He lets go of her hand then, disentangling his fingers from hers, but it's just so he can turn his hand over, press his palm to her abdomen, where she had a habit of folding her hands these days. "You're worried about doing a good job. That means you're going to."

Even with the clumsy tug of plaster in her hair she welcomes the comb of his fingers, a constant security blanket for her just as much as it often was for him. Jackie would have been content to sit and have that simple gesture continue on wordlessly but he goes on to apologize and it earns a scoff from her, not that she can be bothered to lift her head and disengage his hand while she scolds softly. "You can't apologize for gettin' hurt. Neither time was your fault. You told me I can't be sorry 'bout what happened to me and you can't either." What had happened to her. It was true that in the last couple of weeks she had been doing her best to ignore the thoughts, to push the feelings aside, to bury them instead of heal them. It wasn't the right way to handle things, but they weren't her priority at the time.

Lips thinned when he said she didn't have to worry about him and a small smirk was flashed aside at him. It might have held some dry humor in it if it wasn't so tired and miserable still. "I can't stop worrying about you, but I can... lighten up slightly on my worryin'." Unfortunately for Ben, or both of them rather, his incident had left her mind wandering to such horrible thoughts. So often Ben seemed indestructible for all he had gone through since they had met and before. To have that portrait of him shaken in her head left her agonizing over depressing scenarios as unwelcome slap from reality. Her cheek tipped welcomingly into his touch with a few light nods before settling against his touch. "I know you're a good listener. I'll try." This was something that Jackie got into trouble for often, keeping things to herself and letting them fester until it was far too late. Each time she said she would stop yet here they were again. Maybe this time she would be able to keep her word?
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When he talks of the baby Jackie inhales deeply and although she doesn't mean it the breath is released in a heavy sigh. It sounds so much more dramatic than she had intended. "I believe you." The glum words didn't exactly match the sentiment, but it was hard to fight him otherwise. Who would want to disagree wholeheartedly with the idea of their baby loving them anyway? "There are a lot of ladies who make this sort of thing look easy. Wives an' mothers that make it look effortless, like they were born with some sort of understandin' how to do all of this and it switches on when the time is right. My Mama always seemed like she knew what to do no matter what was goin' on. But... I don't feel it. Nothin'. I just do what I think is right an' fumble my way through majority of the time." Brows knit lightly and she looked aside as him, her hand adjusting to place her palm over the back of his hand. "I guess I was hopin' somethin' would kick in. Even when I deal with Adam. Or helpin' you. But nothing ever does and it makes me worry I'm going to be this lost long after the baby is born."

"Alright, then I'll stop being sorry." His smile is as small and dry as hers; he only part means it. He really isn't able to stop being sorry for what happened; even though it wasn't anything he could have predicted, he still feels like he should have known, somehow. Like he was foolish for not figuring it out before it happened. He lets out a quiet little laugh when she says she'll try to at least lighten up on the worrying, but the lift in his mood is there and gone quickly. He listens while she goes on, voices at least some of her fears to him, tipping his head against hers. One hand stays pressed lightly to her stomach, but the other moves to the back of her head, stays there even after he presses a kiss to her forehead. "You will be fine with the baby. Trust me on that. That whole maternal instinct thing... it counts for a lot."

He's quiet a moment longer, but his fingers start their lazy sift through her blonde waves again. After that silence, "You know that I'm always here for you to talk to." Not even a question. "I know you know that. But... maybe it would be good for you to have somebody else to talk to, too. About feeling like that." Pause -- a hesitation, really -- then, "Like a professional. Because I think you're only feeling so lost because of other things," it's a little quickly, like he's backpedaling, because he honestly has no idea how Jackie feels about something like therapy, about shrinks, at least not for herself, "and that if you can work through those other things, maybe you'll feel a little better about this other stuff. And I want to help you, sunshine, I know you know that," he sits up a little, enough so he can at least see her face; a lock of her hair remains woven through his fingers, catches some sunlight, "but I also know you know that we can't rely just on each other for that kind of thing." Though should he really even mention that? It was hypocritical -- he hasn't been to a session in months.

Jackie gives a soft sound of acknowledgment to what he says about maternal instinct but it doesn't make her feel any better. That was the problem, wasn't it? There was supposed to be some sort of instinct in her and so far it was failing. Would it be something that didn't start until after the baby was born? She didn't know, but she would hope for otherwise. As she constantly poured over her books all they managed to do was make her more worried, frightened about what she could expect in the next months and beyond. Just as she did so long ago, she felt overwhelmed and ill prepared. That was only eight weeks in so she couldn't imagine if her state would improve after a few more weeks or months. Didn't most women have that glow about them around this time where they were so excited rather than full of dread?

She's quiet and still as he continues to pet her hair, busily sorting through the mess of emotions and ideas that entangled in her mind. "I know." She states again absentmindedly even if he voices the same thing a moment later. It's only when he carries on that her head finally perks and she looks aside at him, brows furrowed tightly. "I'm not feelin' lost because of other things. I don't have other things to work through." It was a lie, to a point. She knew she had to deal with her issues when it came to Lonnie, the fact that some low-life roughneck managed to make her feel so weak and useless in just about every aspect of her life. But that wasn't something she had to talk to another person about, right? It was something she could sort out on her own or with Ben, given enough time. "If we can't rely on each other for that kind of thing then why did you stop going to talk to someone? If you were gettin' so much out of it then why did you quit?" The fact that he no longer went never escaped her but Jackie wasn't one to press for someone to go to therapy. Probably because she didn't seem to be the sort who enjoyed having someone pressing for her to go.

Ben's demeanor is even when she picks up her head and she looks at him, protests so forcefully -- even when she gets sort of defensive. If anything, he just looks a little sad, and the quiet sigh he lets out doesn't help any. "Well, see? That's why you should probably talk to somebody who knows what they're talking about. Because I've got it all wrong." He gives her a smile then, but it's wan, and it fades quickly -- actually turns into a slight frown when she turns it around on him. "I didn't quit. I've just gotten busy. Last time I went... it was a little bit after Adam got here. Then I started... seeing things," that's how he'll describe it, "and I didn't want to go when that was going on," even though it still was, and even though possibly hallucinating is a time when he especially should be going to his therapist, "and then we got engaged, and... it's just been busy." It's sort of a lame excuse, but it's all he has. "And Harper's not around much, like really not around, not accessible." His brow furrows a little deeper, but the frown disappears, turns into a slight purse of his lips. "But that doesn't matter, really. Doesn't have anything to do with you and if you should maybe go."

He lets go of her hair, presses his palm lightly to her cheek. "I'm not gonna press you on it. If you don't want to go, don't go, and I'll do my best to help you figure it all out. But, sweetheart... just think about it. Please. Healing from something like that isn't easy, and I can support you through it, but I don't know if I can get you through it. I don't know how to..." He trails off, looks pained, briefly, but shakes it off. "It helps," finally, trying to sum it up, though it's hard for him to admit, sort of makes him feel weak. "It does."

Jackie can't even manage a ghost of a smile to counter his when he jests, she looks far too agitated with his suggestion to manage anything other than gritting her teeth. "Alright, you didn't quit. Things got plenty busy. Except we've been back from the honeymoon for a while now, but that doesn't mean nothin'. And Harper hasn't been around, but it's not like there is anyone else in this city to talk about this sort of thing with. I mean, hell, it might even be too easy to open up with someone else who isn't practically adopted into my family. That's who you want to talk with when it comes to your inner-most secrets, y'know?" Good to know Jackie could still manage sarcasm in these serious moments.

Her nostrils flare a few times with deep breaths while she tries to settle herself. Jackie had always been understanding, encouraging even, of Ben going to seek help and someone to talk to when it came to his particular infliction. But Jackie going to see a therapist? It wasn't an idea she ever entertained. You have a problem, you drink it off. Sure, she couldn't drink these days but maybe with enough time the pain and mental torment would fade. "I understand you're sayin' it helps and I'll try thinkin' about it, but I think I'm too busy to go. If you're well enough to be pickin' back up at the office again it means I have a lot to do to get things sorted, catch up everythin' that's been put off, and to get your days back in order. I don't think I have the time." It was a low move, childish really, but if Ben was going to pull the I'm too busy card then Jackie was not above flashing it right back at him.

He doesn't point out that shortly after the honeymoon, Jackie'd been attacked, and then she'd found out she was pregnant, and then Ben had been attacked. It was just an excuse, anyway. He makes a face at her sarcasm, but doesn't counter it with any of his own. He's trying to stay calm -- for her sake. That purse of his lips again is a telltale sign that he's thoughtful, but the little shift of his jaw to one side gives away some level of defiance, too. They both were stubborn. "Well... I was thinking about going back next week, yeah. So I'm sure you'll be busy. So will I." His one hand is still pressed to her stomach; his fingers curl lightly into the fabric there before he lets go, turns so he's not facing her so directly anymore -- but he's not getting distant, just somewhat aloof, or as aloof as he can be while he's putting his arm around her shoulders. "So when I find time to go sometime in the next couple of weeks, that means you can too."
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was for the best that Ben didn't bring up those reasons for not going. If he had Jackie would have quickly pointed out that he was going to be waiting a long time if he was looking for perfect circumstances to return to seeing a professional, especially with the way things were going for them these days. She didn't need to be reminded of everything that happened after the honeymoon considering those nights were well etched into her memory. That was the reason for the therapy talk anyway, but she wouldn't give in.

When Ben shifts himself around Jackie resumes leaning herself against him, tucking herself further against his arm. They might be at odds with each other, but this was a cake walk compared to the last couple of days they had and she refused to let it grow into something that hellish again. "That's fine, sweetheart. When you go, I'll go." To the untrained ear in Jackie Sullivan speak it might have sounded like she was playing the good wife and giving a simple yes, dear, but that wasn't the case. It was Jackie's confidence that Ben would put off the task which in turn meant she could do the same.

Fortunately for Ben, he was nearly fluent in Jackie Sullivan speak, and he was counting on exactly this scenario to play out. "Deal." Even though she hadn't exactly presented it like making an agreement or a deal, but it was too late now, right? "So I guess... back to the whole... you know, the issue," though Ben was pretty certain now that her being upset about his leaving was just a show of her anxiety over him -- over everything. "I'll at least tell you when I go out, alright? I won't just leave. But you need to do like you said and try to stop worrying about me so much. I'm a big boy and I can handle myself. Really." He says it with a little humor in his tone (so at least he's feeling a little better), even though, deep down, he might doubt himself, just a little. But this isn't the first time he's been in trouble, and he's always been able to shake that doubting voice before. He'll do it again; he's at least confident in that.

Quiet for a little bit; the far-off storms that had clouded the sky to the west had gotten closer, and there's a distant roll of thunder. The porch was well-covered, though, and the rain still seemed far away, so Ben didn't seem to be in any rush to go back inside just yet. "When's your appointment? For the baby. Friday, yeah?" Lazily, his fingertips drag up and down the outside of her upper arm, just a barely there touch. Somehow, it's still enough to set off that spark he always felt between them. "Because I still wanna go."

Jackie shrugged the supposed deal aside and just as quickly was tucking it away so she could keep her eye rolling in check. Ben would come up with excuse after excuse for reasons to not find a new therapist and she would be in the clear, it didn't need another irritated thought from her. A bracing inhale was taken when he shifted the conversation to the issue at hand, waiting and worrying that something was going to crack again. It never came. He laid out terms that, for the most part, she could agree with. Well, agreeing to them was easy, it was following through that would be the test. "That's all I ask. I won't try to Nanny you or nothin', I'm only lookin' for a little consideration so you aren't here one second an' gone the next. So I don't have to wonder if it's you takin' off or someone else." Maybe it wasn't what he wanted to hear, bringing the boys up during a conversation about them, but it was a very real issue they had to admit to. "I know you can handle yourself, Sweetheart. I really do. You're... you." Because how else could she describe it?

The sound of thunder in the distance only seemed to make Jackie that much more content to sit on the porch with the way she burrowed her cheek against his shoulder. Sitting outside during rainstorms was a calming thing, something she enjoyed. It was also a relief that the storm which had been brewing between them the last couple of days had finally broken. "It's Friday afternoon." Her voice was thick, the adrenaline of constantly being on edge fading off to leave her in a familiar sleepy state. "No matter what y'were gonna come. Even if we were fittin' at each other like cats and dogs, that's not somethin' I would make you miss or let you get out of. It's our first baby, can't get none of those moments back."
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, her bringing up the boys isn't something he really wants to hear, but it's not anything he can hold against her. It is a real issue, and it's not something he can expect her to ignore -- it wouldn't be fair. He still sighs a little, but he turns slightly, enough to put both arms around her, press his cheek to the top of her head when she nuzzles her own cheek against his shoulder. There's something vaguely protective about the pose, the way he wraps her up. "What do you mean by that, I'm me?" An undertone of amusement in his voice, but it's fond, not teasing.

The wind picks up a little, and he presses a kiss to her hair before leaning his head against hers again. "Yeah, good. I'm glad we're on the same page there. I wouldn't miss those moments for anything." Closing his eyes, he takes a deep breath, lets it out slow -- sort of winces, shifts to try to get more comfortable, but the movement is slight, and he's actively trying not to disturb her. "We good? I'm good."

Ben usually had little moments and gestures, things he did with Jackie that weren't overtly stifling but just enough to reassure her and probably even him that she was okay, that they both were. She was never opposed to them, quite the opposite really, like now with the way she burrowed just a little further against him within his grasp. "I mean you are even more of a cat then I am. BenCat, because you always find a way to land on your feet. It always seems like whatever hand you're dealt you'll always find a way to make it work for you and even though everythin' isn't perfect for you, it still manages to be alright. You make bein' a survivor look effortless even though I know it's not for you." Her fingers curl into the fabric of his shirt, looking for that added dose of security it always manages to bring her. Even if there was nothing foreboding on the horizon it was needed after the last few days.

Her shoulders curl inward at the blast of wind on her back, but she's not moving much more than that which only makes it that much more obvious that he's not quite as relaxed in his spot on the porch swing as she is. "Friday is goin' to be a happy day. Even us bickerin' like children couldn't change that." Her head tilted upward, a kiss pressed beneath his jaw. "I'm gettin' cold. Let's go back inside? I think we both could use some lunch."

He can't help but laugh quietly at the BenCat name. He sobers, though, thoughtful, touched, when she goes on. He doesn't usually assign that title to himself -- survivor -- and hearing her say it (and mention that he makes it look easy, besides) means a lot, and gives him things to think about.

When she hooks her fingers into his shirt, he takes her hand in his, though he doesn't pull it away from the fabic. Not until she plies that kiss beneath his jaw; then he pulls her hand up to his mouth, kisses the backs of her fingers. "Friday's going to be a vey, very happy day, sweetheart." Murmured against her hand, and he keeps ahold of it when he gets to his feet and starts toward the front door with her to head back inside.
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